Zhang Anda Interview - UK Snooker Championships

Winner of the 2023 International Championship, join SportsBoom’s voice of voice, Wade McElwain, as he grabs an insightful chat with one of the newest world-ranking title holders in snooker, Zhang “Mighty Mouse” Anda.

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwain

Last Updated: 2023-12-18

Louis Hobbs

3 minutes read

The Chinese way

“I’m looking forward to it,” Zhang replies calmly, when rating his excitement for the upcoming tournament. “The audience is quite different in China [though]. The audience [there] is bigger,” he goes on to say.

When asked about the rising popularity of snooker among China’s youths, Zhang has a simple answer, “[it] isn’t a recent thing. It’s always been popular.”

“With the success of Ding Junhui, and other Chinese snooker players, the sport has [just] continued to grow amongst everyone,” he explains, before confessing that “Aside from training, I just spend my off time doing things that I enjoy.”

Zhang isn’t a sports pro set on dominating social media, it seems, though he certainly knows the secret sauce it takes to make it work…

“I post more things about my day-to-day life, because people want to know more about what my personal life is like, rather than snooker.” 

The Sheffield edge

“I love Sheffield,” Zhang says, when asked about his day-to-day life. “There is a really big Chinese community here, with exchange students [and] Chinese restaurants, I don’t even need to speak English living in downtown Sheffield because of how vibrant the community is.”

More than comfortable living though, Zhang also credits Sheffield for his snooker aptitude…

“Living in Sheffield definitely brings me numerous advantages in my snooker game,” he explains. “I practise daily in Victoria, and it is a really amazing and supportive environment for the game. Every year the World Championships is held at the Crucible in Sheffield, so there is such a sense of snooker history that you can’t help but feel it [also] gives you home advantage.”

For anyone looking for the best Chinese food in the city, Zhang recommends a spot called “Chinatown”, where “they make the most authentic Cantonese food”.

It’s where the champ goes to “get a taste from home”, so you know you’re in good hands. After all, “some of the best Chinese food you’ve ever had,” is not a promise made lightly!

Under pressure?

“I don’t feel as much pressure being in the UK,” Zhang replies, when comparing life in China. “I am surrounded by such amazing snooker players and snooker community. We live together, we play other sports together. I came to Sheffield because it’s the home of the Championship, a great place to train and grow, and has a great snooker family.”

And while Zhang can’t help but admit that “China is probably better for a snooker career”, he’s of no doubt that “in terms of a snooker education, the UK is the best”.

When asked about 2023’s new seeded vs qualifying format, Zhang is unfazed…

“I am already used to a top 16 seeded format so it’s not something new to me,” he says, before delivering his top tips for balancing his mental health for such elite competitions...

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“Aside from training, I try to do things that I enjoy and relax me. I try not to think about the negatives. If training isn’t going well, then there is no point in making it more negative, so I try to encourage myself to focus on the positives.”

It’s no wonder then, that Zhang’s strategy to correct his off-games follows the same trend. “If I lose a match, I readjust my focus and training for the next one. If I start to have a tough time during a match, I don’t focus on my performance, I think about positive things that can encourage me to get it together.”

Even in China, where snooker players are more celebrated celebrities, Zhang doesn’t let the pressure in.

Against the competition

Mighty Mouse makes it clear that his approach to competition is a grounded, in-the-moment one. The champ doesn’t even let goals clutter his mind until later in the game. “When I make it to the top eight or top four, then I might start thinking about the finals. There is no point thinking that far ahead [until then].”

Speaking of his (then upcoming) match against Elliott Slessor, Zhang had a levelled mindset…

“This will be the third time we have met. I’ve won once and lost once, so I’m 50-50 against him, and have a 50-50 chance,” he says, before admitting that he expects nothing but Slessor’s best, and a tough match from a tough competitor.

When asked for his insight into the styles of other players, Zhang doesn’t see any divide determined by nationality, only by each player and the formats used.

The champ goes on to revel in the prospect of snooker becoming an Olympic sport and what an “amazing honour” it would be to represent China there, before expressing his wishes that the UK had more premier snooker events.

Rounding the interview out, Zhang talks of his reliance on the cross-rest bar more, as a result of his short stature. “Because I am short, it’s actually a disadvantage to my game. I spend a lot of time practising with the rest so that I can use it as almost an extension of my own hand.”

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwainSenior Sports Writer

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.